Explosive city growth in the modern world-system: an initial inventory derived from urban demographic changes

Smith, Dennis, Hoyler, Michael, Firth, Ann and Taylor, Peter (2010) Explosive city growth in the modern world-system: an initial inventory derived from urban demographic changes. Urban Geography, 31 (7). pp. 865-884. ISSN 0272-3638

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.2747/0272-3638.31.7.865


This is an empirical quantitative study that uses urban demographic data to identify economic change in cities. Unlike previous demographic studies, a strong theoretical framework is provided for the analysis. The research is designed and interpreted through Jacobs’s theory of the city as economic process within the framework of Wallerstein’s modern world-system. This is the first time Jacobs’s theory has been subject to systematic inquiry over big time and big space. We create an inventory of 184 examples of Jacobs’s “explosive growth” from 1500 to 2005 within the modern world-system. These results are interpreted in terms of systemic hegemonic cycles with first Dutch, and then British, and finally U.S. cities dominating the inventory lists. It is found that Dutch, British and U.S. city growth spurts are front-loaded in their respective hegemonic cycles: this is strong evidence of hegemony being created and initially sustained through and by these dynamic cities. This study makes a direct contribution to developing world-systems analysis, and in a short conclusion future research on ways of contributing to Jacobs’s theory of the city are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: L100 Economics
L700 Human and Social Geography
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Helen Pattison
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2012 08:39
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2015 11:25
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/6379

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